Fifty springs ago, the Upper Hudson River was conserved as a wild, free flowing river. The Schenectady Gazette’s writer Pete Jacobs reported the news in the April 17, 1969 edition of that newspaper:
“Without opposition, the Assembly gave swift approval to legislation prohibiting the construction of the Gooley Dam on the Upper Hudson River, branded by conservationists as a threat to the wild river country.”
In addition to Gooley, the bill blocks construction of any reservoirs on the river from Luzerne to its source in the Adirondack Park.» Continue Reading.
As an advocate for quiet waters, on August 18, 2018, I joined with 36 canoes and guide boats on a Canoe-In to Weller Pond and Little Weller Pond to lobby for no motors on these pristine bodies of water (cul-de-sacs of the Saranac Chain of Lakes.) As we paddled toward the channel to Weller Pond nine powerboats lined the shore of nearby Hungry Bay. We chanted “All we want is 2%: You have 98,” referencing the amount of the waters open to motors on these lakes. The entire 17.5- mile route from Lower Saranac to Upper Saranac Lake allows for the unlimited use of motorboats.
The motor-boaters held signs urging that Weller be kept open to them. After hearing about the Canoe-In, they had sponsored an advertisement in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on August 11 encouraging “Motorboat owners and boat enthusiasts to come and show your support in preserving and protecting our rights on the water.” » Continue Reading.
Finding the balance between solitude and companionship during a paddling trip is often a challenge.
Looking for companionship a few years after moving to the Adirondacks, I found myself sitting with a group of eight women on a rocky outcrop on Moose Pond, taking a lunch break on a canoe outing. “We went to Germany for three weeks this winter” one of the women said. “Our trip with the grandchildren turned into a nightmare” replied a second. They go on-and-on talking about their travels and grandchildren. What’s happening? Why am I here listening to all this chatter in this supposedly tranquil wilderness, my confused mind shouted. We might as well be in Starbucks!» Continue Reading.
Moving to the Adirondacks in 1998 offered new opportunities to explore the lakes and rivers in my solo canoe near Keene. I first tried Upper Cascade Lake and Chapel Pond, the lakes visible from Route 73 near Keene Valley on the way to Lake Placid. I had admired those lakes for decades while vacationing in the High Peaks.
Launching my Hornbeck at the Upper Cascade Lake was easy as it only weighted 15 pounds. Hugging the south shore, admiring the small streams cascading over the moss-covered rocks at close range was magical. But the noise from the traffic on Route 73, amplified across the lake, caused such an annoyance I soon paddled back to shore in disappointment. » Continue Reading.
I wanted to find an excursion in my solo canoe that provided solitude and where I’d feel challenged, but not in danger. A big order, as in 1993 I had no friends, or even any colleagues, in the Central New York area I could consult who had knowledge of remote areas of the Adirondacks. So I read guidebooks and studied Adirondack maps.
Descriptions of the headwaters of the Saranac River caught my interest, as my first canoe adventure had been through a Girl Scout trip on Upper Saranac Lake many years before. » Continue Reading.
The year after I bought my Hornbeck Canoe in 1991, my friend, Linda, rented a camp on Third Lake, near Old Forge. One weekend I loaded my new canoe on top of my car and drove to her camp, excited that I could spend the weekend in the Adirondacks.
I thought, Oh, Great. This is my opportunity to test out my solo canoe on the Adirondack waters. I wanted to learn as much as I could about my new canoe and how it handled in different situations. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park is held up as the great wilderness area in the eastern United States. It’s the place where people come for a wilderness experience and to enjoy the great outdoors. One great myth about the wild Adirondack Park is that there is an abundance of motor-free lakes and ponds. In fact, the Park faces a scarcity of quiet waters where one can paddle a canoe or kayak without interruption from motorboats, jet skis, floatplanes, and other types of motorized watercraft.
Of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, from Lake Champlain, with 262,864 acres, to Round Pond in Indian Lake, covering 134.9 acres, the overwhelming majority of big lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for motorized watercraft—but scant opportunity for quiet, motor-free waters. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) have dropped their appeal of a state Supreme Court decision that confirmed the classification of Lows Lake as Wilderness.
In August 2011, Supreme Court Justice Michael C. Lynch ruled on a lawsuit brought by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Protect the Adirondacks! (PROTECT), that the lake was and should be managed as Wilderness. Lynch also noted that Lows Lake was included in a 1987 Wilderness classification of about 9,100 acres that was signed by then-Governor Mario Cuomo. The APA and DEC appealed, but this week the state Attorney General’s Office, representing the APA and DEC, withdrew its appeal of Lynch’s decision. » Continue Reading.
All three of Governor David Paterson’s representatives on the Adirondack Park Agency board have reversed votes made in September and opposed designation of the waters of Lows Lake as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe. By a 6-4 vote the APA had added most of the waters and bed of Lows Lake to the Five Ponds Wilderness in September. The rest of the lake was classified as Primitive, which would have prohibited motorized use. It was later learned that the tenure of one of the APA commissioners had expired and the vote needed to be retaken – that vote occurred today and ended in a 7-4 reversal of the previous decision. » Continue Reading.
My neighbor came to the door last week in a fit of outrage over a new DEC regulation that made it clear that leaving your gear in the backcountry was against the rules, except in certain cases. He read about it in the Adirondack Journal, a free Denton Publications paper that appears—whether we like it or not—in our mailboxes each week. “Best pack out your boat” was the title of the “Outdoor Tales” column by Denton Managing Editor John Gereau. Gereau is upset that he can no longer store his boat on state land. His interpretation of a previous DEC regulation (despite Gereau’s claims, we’re not talking about a “law” but an administrative regulation), which made it clear that storing “camping equipment” on state land was against the rules, conveniently did not apply to him and his gear. His boat, he apparently believes, is not gear.
I contacted DEC Region 5 spokesperson David Winchell, who sent me the wording of Part 190 of the State Land Use regulation, which after a public comment period was revised in May to make clear that no personal property should be left on state land: “No person shall erect, construct, install, maintain, store, discard or abandon any structure or any other property on State lands.” I’ve included the full reg below.
While some may have thought they had a special right the rest of us didn’t have, what Gereau calls “a time-honored tradition to leave boats and canoes on the shore of backwoods ponds,” the regulation has been clarified for them. No, folks, you can’t just leave your stuff wherever you like—even if it is hard to carry it in and out and would be more convenient for you.
And why not? If we all followed Gereau’s rules, what might be called the “convenience interpretation,” what’s to keep me from getting my buddies to help me haul my 21 foot speedboat to some back country waterway that allowed motorized boats and just leave it there? Why couldn’t I just leave my boat at the state access point—state land after all—on any lake I please? That would sure save in docking fees and be a heck of a lot more convenient for me.
There’s another argument I’d like to head off as well. What I like to call the “poor old folks” argument. Here’s how Gereau states it: “I know of many older folks who would not have the ability to get out on the water if the boat had not been there for their use.” Not only does it wrongfully label old timers as invalids, it’s also wrong in fact. There are something in the neighborhood of 2,760 individual lakes and ponds larger than a half acre in the Adirondack Park—about four percent of the total area of the park (almost a quarter million acres)—claiming you can’t get to one of them is ridiculous.
And besides, if it’s that back country (ahem, wilderness) experience that those who make the “poor old folks” excuse are after, then they should also be ardent supporters of the quiet waters movement, the major goal of which is increased opportunities to experience the back country they seek.
Here’s the full text of the revised regulation:
The specific citation is 190.8(w)
w. No person shall erect, construct, install, maintain, store, discard or abandon any structure or any other property on State lands or subsequently use such structure or property on State lands, except if the structure or property is authorized by the department or is:
1. a geocache that is labeled with the owner’s name and address and installed in a manner that does not disturb the natural conditions of the site or injure a tree;
2. a camping structure or equipment that is placed and used legally pursuant to this Part;
3. a legally placed trap or appurtenance that is placed and used during trapping season;
4. a tree stand or hunting blind that does not injure a tree, is properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number, and is placed and used during big game season, migratory game bird season, or turkey season; or
5. a wildlife viewing blind or stand that is placed for a duration not to exceed thirty (30) days in one location per calendar year, does not injure a tree, and is properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number
Other new provisions of the regulation were added regarding the use of tree stands.
190.8(x) On State lands, no person shall erect, construct, occupy or maintain any structure that is affixed to a tree by nails, screws or other means that injure or damage the tree except as otherwise authorized by the department.
(y) No person shall erect, construct, maintain, occupy or use any tree stand that is used, operated, accessed or reached by methods or means which injure or damage a tree on State lands, and no person shall gain access to any structure in a tree on State lands by means that injure or damage the tree.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has opened the public comment period and will conduct three public hearings on its proposals to classify and reclassify 12,545 acres of state lands and water of the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, Lows Lake Primitive Area, Hitchens Pond Primitive Area, Round Lake Wilderness Area Lows Lake, Hitchens Pond and the Bog River. These areas are located in the northwest part of the Adirondack Park in Hamilton and St. Lawrence Counties. » Continue Reading.
Floatplanes will be prohibited from using Lows Lake after 2011 and the lake will be managed as wilderness under a resolution approved today by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). Neil Woodworth, the Adirondack Mountain Club’s executive director, said the resolution adopted today is positive step and an improvement over earlier proposals for the lake. » Continue Reading.
In a recent press release – “Quiet Waters Would Enhance Adirondack Experience” – the Adirondack Mountain Club countered some of the critics of the newly formed Quiet Waters Working Group and at the same time called on the working group to make use of what it called “an excellent opportunity to expand one of the Adirondack Park’s greatest attractions, the St. Regis Canoe Area.”
Adirondack Mountain Club officials called on the working group to expand the St. Regis Canoe Area (recently named one of Adirondack Almanack’s 7 Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks) to include 13 interconnecting ponds directly south of the St. Regis and west of Upper Saranac Lake. These would include Follensby Clear, Rollins, Floodwood, Polliwog, Little Square and Whey ponds. They also supported an Adirondack Explorer proposal that the area should remain open to boats with electric motors, with a 5 mph speed limit. Explorer’s proposal also states that “Pre-existing landowners would be exempted,” which wasn’t mentioned in the ADK plan. All told, the 13 ponds have a total surface area of 3 square miles. Last month, state Department Environmental Conservation Commissioner Grannis and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Chairman Curt Stiles announced the formation of an interagency “Quiet Waters Working Group for the Adirondack Park.” The working group will evaluate lakes, ponds and rivers in the Park for potential designation as “quiet water,” meaning that motorized craft would be prohibited.
This new proposal is a compromise by paddlers that would allow anglers to navigate the ponds in boats equipped with electric motors and enjoy quiet fishing undisturbed by the noise and wakes of gas-powered motorboats. It’s still to be seen if that will alleviate opponents of Quiet Waters like this one last week by Robert E. Brown in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:
There has been a decade of new quiet water access purchased by the state with constant loss of motor boating waters. Now we hear of a committee being formed because ‘there are too few paddling opportunities.’ The state, now running out of lands to buy and reclassify as wilderness, intends to regulate motors off waters used by residents and sportsmen for generations.
The ADK supports the creation of the Working Group, saying that it “does not advocate any wide-reaching ban on motorboats on Adirondack waters.”
“Motorboats have been allowed for decades on most larger Adirondacks lakes, and ADK believes that this traditional use should continue,” executive director Neil Woodworth was quoted. “But there also should be more opportunities in the Adirondacks for canoeing and kayaking in peace and quiet. We believe this can be accomplished in ways that has little impact on other users.”
The ADK also called on the Quiet Waters Working Group to study the economic impacts of any Quiet Waters initiatives. Woodworth said the Working Group should also study possible motor restrictions or speed limits on Adirondack rivers, such as the Raquette, Jordan and Osgood. High-speed boats operating close to shore create wakes that disrupt nesting loons and inhibit their ability to reproduce. The Working Group should also consider economic incentives to encourage motorboat owners to switch from loud, dirty two-stroke engines to four-stroke engines.
The ADK also argues that the argument that there are thousands of lakes and ponds, covering hundreds of square miles, that are open to quiet paddling and that many lakes and ponds are inaccessible because they have been “locked up” in wilderness areas., is false.
They argue instead that
The DEC has cataloged more than 3,600 lakes and ponds in the park, but nearly half are less than 5 acres and three-quarters have less than a mile of shoreline. When private and public water bodies are taken into account, about 90 percent of the park’s lake surface area is open to motorboats. Although wilderness accounts for 17.5 percent of the total area of the Adirondack Park, wilderness ponds cover only about 12,000 acres, less than 4 percent of the park’s total.
Although they were popular in the Adirondacks in the 1890s and early 1900s, according to the G. W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, no one is really sure who founded the Electric Launch Company (“Elco”):
Electric motors that could be used for marine application had been invented by William Woodnut Griscom of Philadelphia in 1879, and in 1880 he started the Electric Dynamic Company. In 1892 Griscom’s electrical company went bankrupt, and Electric Dynamic Company was bought by Isaac Leopold Rice who founded Electric Storage Battery Company (“Exide”). Rice had become interested in Electric Launch Company; they had been buying his storage batteries. He also was interested in Holland Torpedo Boat Company. He purchased the latter and merged it, along with Elco, into the Electric Boat Company in 1899. In 1900, Elco, which had previously acted as middleman by farming out the hull contracts and installing Griscom’s motors and Rice’s batteries, built its own boat-building facility at Bayonne, NJ.
Join Charles Houghton, former president of the Electric Launch Company will present a program entitled “Batteries Included: The History, Present, and Future of Electric Boating” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake that will be presented this Monday, July 14, 2008 in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
The company provided 55 electric launches for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to ferry sightseers over the fair’s canals and lagoons. Elco shifted to gasoline engines by 1910 and had a long life building military and some of the first widely produced pleasure boats. During World War One, the company built 550 sub chasers for the British navy. In 1921 they introduced the popular and (reasonably) affordable 26-foot Cruisette, a gas engine cabin cruiser. During World War Two Elco developed the the PT Boat, an 80-foot torpedo boat with a Packard aircraft engine.
At the end of the war, the company merged with Electric Boat of Groton, CT to form the nucleus of General Dynamics. By 1949, General Dynamics’ CEO thought he could make more money by building military craft and Elco’s workers were fired, the shipyard in Bayonne, New Jersey and all its equipment was sold.
The company was re-incorporated in 1987 but didn’t shift into electric boats again until 1996 the year Monday’s speaker, Charles Houghton, became company president. Under his direction the company began building electric motor boats and electric drives for boats and sailboats.
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